The war against Negan has finally begun.
There was certainly concern that The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 16 would be a lot of buildup, the communities coming together for a sit down and then agreeing that it was time to go to war with Negan.
After all, look at how The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 16 played out by providing what felt like an elongated buildup followed by a lack of payoff. The issue wasn't just because there was a cliffhanger.
Thankfully, the season finale provided the first real battle to kickstart the larger conflict instead of just another Negan monologue and some character getting "punished" by Lucille.
It felt like a turning of the tides, especially after the reveal that the garbage people had made a deal with Negan.
But it also felt like the start of something new, something to look forward to, a chance to see some real push back against a bat-wielding dude who's pretty much held all the cards so far.
The big death was clearly Sasha, but it felt like it had been so telegraphed of late, and definitely in the episode -- not to mention she had been cast on another TV show -- that keeping it until near the end just dragged it out.
And unfortunately, her flashback scenes to boost up the focus on the character kept slowing the momentum of everything else down.
There was some solid tension growing as the groups were coming together and the battle lines were being drawn, and then it would be erased by Sasha chatting with Abraham.
It just felt too little too late to be adding those scenes in this late in the game.
That said, her decision to kill herself was the sacrifice that gave Rick and the others their chance. So it wasn't all for naught, though her path to get to that point was frustrating just the same.
It should have been obvious that Jadis and her talking-challenged friends would turn on Rick for a better deal, but it still felt like a surprise when the explosives didn't go off and the tables were turned.
At the same time, I did question if the show was going to pull such a ballsy move in killing off Carl.
Clearly it was a callback to a similar moment on The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 1, but I was expecting different results.
And Rick's emotional retorts to Negan added to the tension of the moment right up until the tiger jumped out of nowhere to keep Rick and Carl safe.
It was certainly an entertaining battle that followed, and how awesome was that tiger? What a fantastic teammate to have.
There was a certain satisfaction in seeing the communities banded together and pushing back against the Saviors.
Ezekiel's lines during the battle felt a little too cheesy, but overall, the fight was an engaging one to the end.
It was annoying that The Walking Dead tried to pull another fake out by making us think Michonne was killed. Just so unnecessary.
Eugene playing for Negan’s team is a fascinating one, because he doesn’t seem to be some double agent. Though, he clearly still cared about Rick and the others in an effort to get them to surrender before everything went sideways.
At the same time, the idea that Dwight could be some double agent is intriguing as well, and I look forward to seeing that play out over the next season.
Ultimately, a lot of what transpired felt rather inevitable, but with the way things ended, really shifting things forward and giving Rick and the team something of a win, the season finale ended on a high note.
I wish I cared more about Sasha’s death on the show, but her character had become tiresome and frustrating. At least her death was trying to do something good for her friends and not just some random kill.
At times the back half of The Walking Dead Season 7 felt like things were trudging along, but there was a certain intensity for most of this episode, and the ending provided hope that this war will really get the ball rolling come next season.
Like Negan said, “We’re going to war.” I'm in.
What did you think of the season finale? What did you think of Sasha's death? Are you excited to see the war with Negan? Sound off below, and be sure to watch The Walking Dead online at TV Fanatic!
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.